Skip to main content


Log in

The Different Learning Outcomes of High School and College Students on a 3D-Printing STEAM Engineering Design Curriculum

  • Published:
International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education Aims and scope Submit manuscript


To enable high school students, especially those interested in art and design-related careers, to improve their ability to integrate knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in their creative design practices and to be familiar with auto manufacturing, the development of a bridging curriculum, known as STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) using digital tools such as 3D printers, has been increasingly recognized as emergent and vital. As a bridging curriculum, it is essential to examine the curriculum with respect to high school and college students to highlight the differences in their knowledge and skills for improving curriculum development. Hence, we conducted a teaching experiment using a CO2-car engineering design curriculum in this study to analyze the learning outcomes of four groups of students (three 3D-printing groups: 108 high school students, 12 design college students, and 12 engineering college students; one handmade group: 36 high school students) to assess their competencies. The results of the present study highlight significant differences in creativity, forecast accuracy, race outcomes, and learning outcomes. Suggestions based on the results were generated to improve the curriculum. The findings in this study serve as a reference for the future design, development, and implementation of STEAM curricula.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Ahmed, S., Wallace, K. M., & Blessing, L. T. (2003). Understanding the differences between how novice and experienced designers approach design tasks. Research in Engineering Design, 14(1), 1–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Atman, C. J., Adams, R. S., Cardella, M. E., Turns, J., Mosborg, S., & Saleem, J. (2007). Engineering design processes: A comparison of students and expert practitioners. Journal of Engineering Education, 96(4), 359–379.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Atman, C. J., Cardella, M. E., Turns, J., & Adams, R. (2005). Comparing freshman and senior engineering design processes: An in-depth follow-up study. Design Studies, 26(4), 325–357.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Başar, A. G. Ç., & Ülkebaş, D. (2011). Diversity of industrial design education in Turkey and future prospects. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 15, 981–987.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Besemer, S. P., & Treffinger, D. J. (1981). Analysis of creative products: Review and synthesis. Journal of Creative Behavior, 15, 158–178.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Blikstein, P., Kabayadondo, Z., Martin, A., & Fields, D. (2017). An assessment instrument of technological literacies in makerspaces and fablabs. Journal of Engineering Education, 106(1), 149–175.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brophy, S., Klein, S., Portsmore, M., & Rogers, C. (2008). Advancing engineering education in P-12 classrooms. Journal of Engineering Education, 97(3), 369–387.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bybee, R. W. (2010). What is STEM education? Science, 329, 996.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chang, Y. S. (2002). A study on creativity of virtual teams (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan.

  • Corum, K., & Garofalo, J. (2015). Using digital fabrication to support student learning. 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing, 1, 50–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Domermuth, D. (2009). The pedagogy of form versus function for industrial design. Paper presented at the ASEE Southeast Section Conference, The Citadel, Charleston, SC.

  • Eisenberg, M. (2013). 3D printing for children: What to build next? International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 1(1), 7–13.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • F1 in Schools (2017). All about the challenge. Retrieved from

  • Fan, S. C., & Yu, K. C. (2017). How an integrative STEM curriculum can benefit students in engineering design practices. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 27(1), 107–129.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hubel, V., & Lussow, D. B. (1984). Focus on designing. New York: McGraw-Hill.

  • Kendall, M. G., & Smith, B. B. (1939). The problem of m rankings. The Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 10(3), 275–287.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kim, D., & Bolger, M. (2017). Analysis of Korean elementary pre-service teachers’ changing attitudes about integrated STEAM pedagogy through developing lesson plans. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 15(4), 587–605.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kwon, H. (2016). Effect of middle school students’ motivation to learn technology on their attitudes toward engineering. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 12(9), 2281–2294.

    Google Scholar 

  • Land, M. H. (2013). Full STEAM ahead: The benefits of integrating the arts into STEM. Procedia Computer Science, 20, 547–552.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lipson, H., & Kurman, M. (2013). Fabricated: The new world of 3D printing. New York: Wiley.

  • Madsen, D. A., & Madsen, D. P. (2017). Engineering drawing and design (6th ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning.

  • Mentzer, N., Huffman, T., & Thayer, H. (2014). High school student modeling in the engineering design process. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 24(3), 293–316.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Milkova, L., Crossman, C., Wiles, S., & Allen, T. (2012). Engagement and skill development in biology students through analysis of art. CBE Life Sciences Education, 12(4), 687–700.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mote, C., Strelecki, K., & Johnson, K. (2014). Cultivating high-level organizational engagement to promote novel learning experiences in STEAM. The STEAM Journal, 1(2), 18.

    Google Scholar 

  • Newstetter, W. C., & McCracken, W. M. (2001). Novice conceptions of design: implications for the design of learning environments. Design Knowing and Learning: Cognition in Design Education, 1, 63–77.

    Google Scholar 

  • NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Norman, D. (2010). Why design education must change. Core, 77. Retrieved from

  • Ogle, T. (2004). Racing to success: Using professional 3-D design software to build CO2-powered cars in middle school science. Learning & Leading with Technology, 31(5), 22–34.

    Google Scholar 

  • Park, D. Y., Park, M. H., & Bates, A. B. (2016a). Exploring young children’s understanding about the concept of volume through engineering design in a STEM activity: A case study. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s10763-016-9776-0.

  • Park, H., Byun, S. Y., Sim, J., Han, H., & Baek, Y. S. (2016b). Teachers’ perceptions and practices of STEAM education in South Korea. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 12(7), 1739–1753.

    Google Scholar 

  • Quigley, C. F., & Herro, D. (2016). Finding the joy in the unknown: Implementation of STEAM teaching practices in middle school science and math classrooms. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 25(3), 410–426.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Roozenburg, N., van Breemen, E., & Mooy, S. (2008). A competency-directed curriculum for industrial design engineering. Paper presented at the 10th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Barcelona, Spain.

  • Snyder, T. J., Andrews, M., Weislogel, M., Moeck, P., Stone-Sundberg, J., Birkes, D., . . . Graft, J. (2014). 3D systems’ technology overview and new applications in manufacturing, engineering, science, and education. 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing, 2, 169–176.

  • Spanos, P. D., Castillo, D. H., Kougioumtzoglou, I. A., & Tapia, R. A. (2012). A nonlinear model for top fuel dragster dynamic performance assessment. Vehicle System Dynamics, 50(2), 281–297.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ulrich, K. T., & Eppinger, S. D. (2011). Product design and development (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

  • Verner, I., & Merksamer, A. (2015). Digital design and 3D printing in technology teacher education. Procedia CIRP, 36, 182–186.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wells, J., Lammi, M., Gero, J., Grubbs, M. E., Paretti, M., & Williams, C. (2016). Characterizing design cognition of high school students: Initial analyses comparing those with and without pre-engineering experiences. Journal of Technology Education, 27(2), 78–91.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wicklein, R. C. (2006). Five good reasons for engineering as the focus for technology education. The Technology Teacher, 65(7), 25–29.

  • Winston, A. (2014). Design education is “tragic” say Jonathan Ive. Dezeen Magazine. Retrieved from

  • Wordley, S., & Saunders, J. (2006). Aerodynamics for formula SAE: A numerical, wind tunnel and on-track study (Technical Paper No. 2006-01-0808). Monash Wind Tunnel, Mechanical Engineering Monash University, Australia: SAE International.

  • Zande, R. V. (2017). Design education: Creating thinkers to improve the world. Lahham: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


This research was supported by a grant from the Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology under Project MOST 104-2511-S-003-040-MY3.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yu-Hung Chien.

Electronic supplementary material


(DOC 2599 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chien, YH., Chu, PY. The Different Learning Outcomes of High School and College Students on a 3D-Printing STEAM Engineering Design Curriculum. Int J of Sci and Math Educ 16, 1047–1064 (2018).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: